Tips for Incoming Students

MSDS welcomes the opportunity to discuss any of these tips for considering study at UCSF and preparing for the transition in more detail with respect to your specific circumstances.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the structure of the curriculum
    • Look at the standard schedule for the program. Many have set schedules with little choice about morning classes and with few breaks during the day. In many programs, classes may begin at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. with a short lunch break. Unlike an undergraduate program, in medical school students usually do not have the opportunity to arrange their schedule so they only have afternoon classes, or strategically plan for multiple breaks during the day.
    • Sequential nature of curriculum. Some students may have found extended time to degree or a part-time workload helpful in their undergraduate program. All requests for accommodation will be considered individually, however, it is notable that due to the sequential nature of medical education, part time schedules may not always be reasonable or practical.
  2. Review any technical standards
    Technical standards outline the requirements for students, beyond academic performance. Prospective students should consider whether they will be able to meet these requirements with or without accommodations, and what (if any) accommodations would be needed to do so? 
  3. Familiarize yourself with the “outside the classroom” components
    What are the schedule and nature of the clinical requirements and patient interaction encounters?
  4. Research your health insurance options
    Consider if it would be helpful to have access to Student Health on campus for primary care and mental health services? Does the University's Student Health Insurance Program (UC-SHIP) have unique benefits you will need? For example, the plan currently includes a benefit for psychoeducational and neuropsychological testing for LD and AD/HD. You can find information about the UC-SHIP on the Student Health & Counseling website.
  5. Consider the topography and climate of San Francisco
    Much has been discussed about the hills and weather of San Francisco. While it is true that the Parnassus campus itself is located at the top of a hill, it is important to know that the campus is largely accessible – though some routes around campus may not be readily apparent. The unique climate of San Francisco (temperate, but often windy, foggy, damp, and sunny, all on the same day) may pose new complexities for students with disabilities.
    • The best source of information about campus access is theUCSF Access Guide. If you have any concerns about physical access on campus, don't hesitate to discuss them with SDS.
    • It is a good idea to speak to your medical team before arrivingin San Francisco to think through what the impact of the new climate and topography might pose so you can plan accordingly. 
    • It is worthwhile to consider your housing options carefully.Students with chronic health conditions may find a housing location that is close to campus and will work well for a “good day” but on a day they are experiencing increased symptoms, a hill or stairs may not be so welcome. If you are considering a request for specific disability related accommodations for housing, see the full description of the accommodation request process on the UCSF Housing website.
  6. Think about if and when to disclose your disability and request accommodations.
    Deciding to disclose your disability is a very personal decision, and is by no means required. However, accommodations will not be provided until you register by making a formal disclosure of your disability and associated functional limitations, providing documentation of your disability, formally requesting accommodations, and you are deemed eligible for accommodations.

    You can meet with MSDS to discuss your circumstances, and possible accommodations that may be available. This meeting is confidential, and no information will be shared outside of MSDS until you formally register with SDS and decide to access accommodations.

    There is no deadline to request accommodations. You can register with MSDS at any time during your tenure at UCSF, and you can request new accommodations at any time. However, note that a last minute request may not be able to be coordinated quickly, and we will need a reasonable timeframe to review and coordinate your request.

    It is your choice whether or not to register or access approved accommodations. However, if you choose to wait to register or forego approved accommodations, you will be held to your performance in your program, even if you feel you would have done better with accommodations.